Little Bo-Beep.

A poem by Clara Doty Bates

What was Bo-Peep? Can anyone guess?
Why, little Bo-Peep was a shepherdess!
And she dressed in a short white petticoat,
And a kirtle of blue, with a looped-up look,
And a snowy kerchief about her throat,
And held in her hand a crook.

What eyes she had, the little Bo-Peep!
They had tears to laugh with, and tears to weep.
So fringy, and shy, and blue, and sweet,
That even the summer skies in color,
Or the autumn gentians under her feet,
Less tender were and duller.

Now, a shepherdess ought to watch her sheep;
But the careless little girl, Bo-Peep,
Was hunting for late wild strawberries,
The sweetest her tongue had ever tasted;
They were few in number, and small in size,
Too good, though, to be wasted.

And in that way the little Bo-Peep,
The first she knew, had lost her sheep!
To the top of the nearest knoll she ran,
The better to look the pasture over;
She shaded her face, and called, "Nan! Nan!"
But none of them could discover.

About and about went little Bo-Peep;
Her feet grew tired, the hills were steep;
And in trying her fears to overcome
She sighed, "I don't know where to find 'em.
But let 'em alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind 'em!"

So down sat trustful little Bo-Peep,
And in a minute was fast asleep!
Arm over her head, and her finger-ends
All red with the fruit she had been eating;
While her thoughts were only of her lost friends,
And she dreamed she heard them bleating.

'Twas a happy dream for little Bo-Peep;
As she lay on the grass, her flock of sheep,
With scatter and clatter and patter of feet,
Came hastening from all ways hither, thither;
First one would bleat, then another would bleat,
Then "b-a-a--a-a!" all together!

But ah, it was only while Bo-Peep
Was tired enough to stay asleep
That her flock was with her; for when she woke,
Rubbing her eyes to see the clearer,
She found that her dream was all a joke,
And they were nowhere near her.

Tearful and sorrowful grew Bo-Peep!
Down from her lashes the tears would creep;
But she started out, as there was need,
Before it should be too dark to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left their tails behind them!

Did she laugh or cry, our little Bo-Peep,
To see such a comical crowd of sheep?
There were plenty of bodies, white and fat;
And plenty of wide mouths, eating, eating;
Plenty of soft wool, and all that:
And plenty of noisy bleating;

Yet all of them stood, and tried to keep
At a little distance from Bo-Peep!
They knew her voice, and were very glad
To have her come with her crook to find them,
But they felt so strangely because they had
Not a single tail behind them.

The innocent-faced old mother-sheep,
Who bleated and stamped to greet Bo-Peep,
With their tails shorn close, were odd enough;
But the very oddest of all was when a
Group of the lambs went galloping off,
All legs, and hadn't any!

Though sorry enough was little Bo-Peep
That the tails were lost from her pretty sheep,
She murmured, "I'll find them easily,
And there's very little good in crying!"
So away she went, and at last, in a tree,
She saw them hung a-drying!

She piled them up in a great white heap,
And the best she could do, poor little Bo-Peep!
Was to try to fasten them where they grew--
Or that was, at least, what she intended,--
But if she did it I never knew,
For now my story is ended!

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